Legend has it that Lisboa was founded by Ulysses. The name comes from “Olissipo”, which has its origins in the Phoenician words “Allis Ubbo”, meaning “enchanting port”. Most likely it was founded by the Phoenicians and styled by the Moors which shows in the strong Arabic influences. It was, after all, ruled by the Moors for 450 years. In the 12th century the Christians re conquered the city but it was not until the mid 13th century that Lisbon became the country’s capital.
On the right hand bank of the river Tagus, Lisbon is a city whose legendary history stretches back over twenty centuries. The maritime Voyages of Discovery turned Lisbon into one of the world’s great ports and the centre of an empire that stretched from Brazil in the West to India in the East. On the banks of the river, great monuments testify to that history. After the earthquake of 1755, the Baixa Pombalina downtown was rebuilt in the classical style while many of its adjoining medieval neighborhoods survived and are now home to an amazing array of stores, restaurants and coffees. Lisbon’s exceptional and highly individualistic light has charmed writers, photographers and filmmakers with the polychrome facade tiles serving to create a particular atmosphere. On foot, by tram, boat or walking the banks of the Tagus, and even on the metro - an open underground museum of contemporary Portuguese art, any means serves to reveal the cultural diversity of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
With about 2.800 sunshine hours per year - average 4.6 sunshine hours/day in December to 11.4 in July – Lisbon is the sunniest European capital, with Europe’s mildest winter and warm summers. Enjoying a subtropical-mediterranean climate, Lisbon’s typical summer season lasts about 6 months, from May to October, with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) during the day and 16.2°C (61.2°F) at night. December, January and February are the coldest months, with an average temperature of these three months amounting 15.2°C (59.4°F) during the day and 8.9°C (48.0°F) at night. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summers being generally dry.With about 2.800 sunshine hours per year - average 4.6 sunshine hours/day in December to 11.4 in July – Lisbon is the sunniest European capital, with Europe’s mildest winter and warm summers.
Enjoying a subtropical-mediterranean climate, Lisbon’s typical summer season lasts about 6 months, from May to October, with an average temperature of 25°C (77°F) during the day and 16.2°C (61.2°F) at night. December, January and February are the coldest months, with an average temperature of these three months amounting 15.2°C (59.4°F) during the day and 8.9°C (48.0°F) at night. Rain occurs mainly in winter, the summers being generally dry.
If you want to relax in the sun, a few minutes away from city center by train, you reach Estoril Coast, with several beac1es to the Atlantic Ocean. Just across the river you find Costa da Caparica, with sand dunes, pine trees and white sandy beaches, along with magnificent sea views restaurants, perfect for late afternoon drinks and early dinners.
Less than 30 minutes away from Lisbon, you can explore beaches that offer some of the world’s best waves, hotspots for surfers from all around the globe, including the surf mecca Ericeira, recently approved as a World Surfing Reserve (the only in Europe) by the Save The Waves Coalition. The average annual temperature of the sea is 17.5°C (63.5°F). During summer the average sea temperature rises to 20°C (68°F).
From traditional and extremely friendly taverns to sophisticated and international prize-winning restaurants, everything is possible in Lisbon - the perfect place to have a meal! Close to the sea, traditional Lisbon gastronomy includes fresh fish and delicious shellfish delights.
Although the abundance of fresh fish, the salted and dried codfish - known as bacalhau - is considered the national dish, prepared in 1001 different ways – all of them irresistible! Lisboetas are coffee tireless drinkers. Strong and served in small shots, coffee is an institution in Portugal: the perfect reason for a break, going out after dinner, meeting friends or indulging yourself with a sweet or pastry, specially the famous custard tarts - Pastéis de Belém – always with cinnamon and sugar powder!
Lisbon is known for its bubbly nightlife. The old neighborhood of Bairro Alto is the place to go out in Lisbon for an after-dinner drink and crowd watching. Its tinny little streets, which are empty during daytime, become crowded walkways, difficult to get through. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, but the shabby-chic district rocks every night until 2 AM.
Also looking over the river, Alcântara and Santos are as well good places to go out for dinner or barhopping, with a wide array of restaurants, bars and clubs where you can relax and have fun.
Lisbon, Europe's west coast capital, is the home for more than half a million people, the so-called Lisboetas or alfacinhas (translation: little lettuce, Lisbon Local). For the last millennium, the mingling between groups who have inhabited and traded in Portugal - Iberians, Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Moors, Jews, and others – combined with the nation’s isolation from Spain and the rest of Europe, resulted in a homogeneous and peculiarly Portuguese population, both ethnically and culturally: about 97% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholic, but other religions enjoy freedom of worship, and most of them reveal typical Mediterranean physical characteristics like brown eyes, dark hair, and a height of less than 6 feet.
Defining a national character is never easy, but one can say that most Lisboetas are hospitable, easy-going and friendly. Although some at first sight may seem gloomy and morose to foreigners, they're known to be ready to go out of their way to help! Almost everyone, especially among the youngsters, speaks – or at least, understands and tries to speak – English! Lisbon, an international city, with a population made up of different races, backgrounds and cultures, where everyone feels welcome!
Lisbon, forever known as the ancient city of the explorers, molded by generations of invaders and rulers from diverse cultures and backgrounds, has one of the most colorful cultures and architectures in Europe – you can easily find elements of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Traditional Portuguese, Modern and Post-Modern styles in a single day around the city. You can start your journey through time with two World Heritage architectural marvels, described by Unesco as "Portuguese art at its best" and a "reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world': the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower.
Built on seven legendary hills along the Tagus River and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon will also seduce you with characteristic mosaic pavements and impressive tiled facades. To breathtaking panoramas of the city, hoop on one of the picturesque yellow tram – dating from the 1930’s – and explore the strategically-placed and so-called miradouros (viewpoints). If you want to see the most famous sites, you should try tram line 28 – a journey through colorful 18th century squares downtown and the medieval maze of the Alfama district overlooked by an ancient São Jorge Castle, that offers a great panorama over the city. Once in the castle, you will find yourself at the perfect setting for Lisbon’s emblematic music: Fado. For those who prefer less mournful lyrics and music, there is always something going on in Lisbon, from major concerts to film and music festivals. What a wonderful mix of the old-fashioned and the trendy; the historic and the contemporary! There is always plenty to do, see and experience in Lisbon, the European Consumer's Choice Best Destination in 2010!
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